Union Pacific gets court permission to stop operating Metra trains Wednesday, 29 September 2021 14:32:44 CDT David-Braverman Chicago, General, Geography, Politics, Travel (0) The Union Pacific Railroad, which currently operates about 35% of all Chicago commuter trains, has won a major ruling from a Federal judge that clears the way for it to stop operating those trains: UP wants out of the commuter business, saying it wants to focus on its its freight service. It has noted that almost all other Metra service now is operated by the commuter rail agency itself, sometimes on tracks it owns itself and at other times on track leased from freight railroads. Metra’s position is that in the absence of a discontinuance agreement, UP had to continue to run the trains and ancillary services, such as ticket collection, under “common carrier” provisions that governed railroads nationally for more than a century. Both sides asked Judge Jorge Alonso for summary judgement. Last week he ruled against Metra. Effectively, Alonso held, common-carrier rules were substantially eased after the creation of Amtrak, the national passenger carrier, and other deregulation actions by Congress in recent decades. Any remaining common-carrier question that requires federal approval would under the law cover only freight, not passenger, service, he added, but UP is moving to stop only commuter service, not freight. In a statement, Metra said only that “We are reviewing the ruling and our options.” UP in its own statement promised not to do anything abrupt that would interfere with service. Well, that's fun. In 2019, the three Metra lines UP operates had about 27 million of the entire network's 74 million passenger trips, including (I estimate) about 300 of mine, so there is no way the lines will simply shut down. Metra will almost certainly take over operations and pay UP for track and signal use, just like they do on other lines. We'll see how this plays out.